If you're someone who uses skincare products, I'm sure you've asked yourself these two questions when you're looking to buy a serum. Should you use a multi-purpose serum that targets all your skin concerns at one go, thereby saving you time and possibly money? Or should you get a couple of targeted serums for say, your lack of skin radiance and sagging skin, so you can see better results? We sat down with Dr Yoshinori Shirono, dermatologist and founder of Japanese skincare brand Dr Ci:Labo, to get his take on this particular skincare product.
1. A targeted serum may be more effective than a multi-purpose one
To put it simply, you get better results using two or more targeted serums instead of a dual- or multi-purpose one. Says Dr Shirono: “Multi-purpose serums have less active ingredients that target specific skin concerns, so you need to use it for longer to see results. If you use a potent serum, you’ll see results much more quickly.”
Targeted serums also let you “customise” your skincare routine to better and more immediately address your specific skin concerns.
2. More potent doesn’t equal higher chances of skin irritation
Developing a bad reaction to a product just means that your skin doesn’t agree with one or more ingredients in it. For example, water-soluble vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that people with sensitive skin should avoid. But its fat-soluble derivative VC-IP is more stable and penetrates skin layers better (read: higher potency), yet can be used on delicate skin.
3. Even if you use multiple serums, you should still apply a moisturiser
Don’t think you can skip your moisturiser if you use multiple serums. Moisturisers help “lock” the active ingredients in your skin (and more) so they can work their magic for you to see better results. The best part? You don’t have to wait for your serum to be absorbed before applying your moisturiser. You can even combine the two in your palms and apply them in one go. It’s a common practice among Japanese women and won’t hinder the absorption of either skincare, adds Dr Shirono.
4. You should continue using a product for at least three more months after you see results
He also advises you continue using a product for the next three to six months after you see results, because the improvement is only on the outermost layers of the dermis and “your skin condition may resurface if you stop using the product too soon after that”.
If you're looking for targeted serums to try, here are four that are potent and can be combined with your favourite moisturiser.
1. Dr Ci:Labo Super 100 Series Epidermal Growth Factor ($53 for 10ml; $129 for 30ml)
This improves skin elasticity and texture, and the look of pigmentation and fine lines by delivering EGF into skin; EGF is a component found in our bodies that helps stimulate skin cell growth and skin renewal rates.
2. Dr Ci:Labo Super 100 Series Hyaluronic Acid ($32 for 30ml; $56 for 60ml)
This contains an enriched version of the water-binding ingredient (one gram of hyaluronic acid can absorb six litres of water) to help skin better retain moisture and strengthen skin barrier function. It comes in a jelly-like form, and two blobs, or a dropper's worth of serum is sufficient for your face, neck, nape and decolletage.
3. Dr Ci:Labo Super 100 Series Marine Collagen ($40 for 30ml)
Our dermis is made up of 70 per cent collagen, which our skin produces less of as we age. This serum delivers a collagen compound that has a high compatibility with our skin to keep skin moist and firm, combating signs of ageing like sagging skin and fine lines.
4. Dr Ci:Labo Super 100 Series Vitamin C ($39 for 10ml)
The active ingredient in this is VC-IP, the more-potent, less-irritating form of vitamin C. Its antioxidant properties combat free radicals that damage skin cells and cause premature ageing, and inhibits melanin production for more even-toned and radiant skin.